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Here are five different pitchers fantasy baseball owners can consider using on DraftKings for Tuesday’s 10-game slate:
1. Max Scherzer, $11,800, WSH vs. PHI
Tuesday’s slate is insanely rich with pitching options, but the cream of the crop is Scherzer; the best pitcher in all of fantasy baseball. Mad Max owns a ridiculous 41% strikeout rate against righties the past two seasons, and there likely will be at least five of them in the lineup Tuesday in addition to the pitcher. There is a ton of strikeout upside here.
The Phillies are tied for the lowest run total on the board and only have two players with an ISO over .200 the past two seasons versus righties. The biggest threat in the lineup is obviously Bryce Harper ($4,500), but Scherzer is no stranger to giving up solo home runs in otherwise sterling efforts. The value of a strikeout vastly outweighs that of runs allowed, and Scherzer has not allowed a baserunner per inning since 2014.
The only blip on the radar here is the weather. There is some possible rain in the forecast, and you’ll want to keep a close eye on that as first pitch approaches. If the rain holds off, the wind is blowing in slightly, and should only further assist the cause for Scherzer.
2. Justin Verlander, $11,500, HOU at TEX
On most slates, Verlander would be the best pitching option available, but on this one he’ll have to settle for No. 2. Arlington is not an ideal location for pitchers, as it had the highest park factor for runs scored in 2018. However, there is projected to be winds in excess of 10 miles per hour blowing in from center field, which could help limit the damage caused by the park.
Verlander owns a 30% strikeout rate the past two seasons, and that number jumps to 32.9% when facing lefties. This is fortunate for him, since the Rangers possess a number of talented left-handed hitters. Most of them also are strikeout prone, especially Joey Gallo ($4,700), who has struck out in a whopping 35% of at-bats against righties the past two seasons.
Because of his price, the other pitchers on the slate and a ballpark that could scare some people away, this could be an opportunity to use Verlander at much lower-than-normal ownership. This is worth taking advantage of in GPPs.
3. Hyun-Jin Ryu, $9,300, LAD vs SFG
Ryu has a career 3.18 ERA, but injuries and a loaded Dodger team have kept him in relative obscurity. Until now. The South Korean was brilliant in his first start, allowing just four hits and a run over six innings while striking out eight. He managed to do that on just 82 pitches. The team might look to continue to limit Ryu’s pitch count to maintain his health and take advantage of its top-end bullpen, but he already has shown he can be quite efficient on limited pitches.
The matchup against San Francisco is also just about perfect. The Giants don’t strike out a ton, with a collective strikeout rate of less than 20% the past two seasons, but offer little threat to score. In their five games played so far, the Giants have scored 0, 1, 3, 1 and 4 runs. That’s good for a .113 ISO, .250 wOBA and wRC+ of 52. Of course the sample size is small, but this paints a picture of just how aggressively bad this Giants team is. They also have struck out 27.2% of the time to open the year, so perhaps there is more strikeout upside here than previously thought.
Ryu might be the best per-inning option for the price but does not offer the same innings upside as Scherzer and Verlander. I would anticipate a popular build to be Ryu and one of the two main studs.
4. Jose Berrios, $9,700, MIN at KC
I said going into the season that Berrios looked like he was ready to become a true ace in 2019, and he hasn’t let down through one start. On Opening Day, Berrios allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out 10 Indians in 7 2/3 innings. Now he gets a far more beatable Royals team that has a strikeout rate of 24% the past two seasons and does not possess a ton of power in the lineup.
If there is a concern here with Berrios, it is the number of lefties the Royals can throw into the lineup. I would expect at least five Tuesday. Berrios has allowed 39 more points of wOBA and 29 more points of ISO to lefties than righties the past two seasons. Walks also have been a big part of his struggles, with a walk rate against lefties more than double that of against righties. If Berrios has made real strides in his command, the Royals likely have no shot against him.
5. Chris Sale, $10,500, BOS at OAK
I’m a little nervous about Sale. His velocity in his first start was down, which seems to be a pattern for the Red Sox ace.
Sale’s average velo in first inning today: 93.2 mph. Last year, he was 93.8, 92.1, and 93.2 mph in his first three starts – so today he’s opened right in the velo band of ‘healthy, dialed-back Sale’— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) March 28, 2019
This likely means Sale is fine, and this isn’t a sign of him falling off in year 10 of his career. It does, however, seem as though Sale might struggle a little bit more than we’re used to to open the year. Sale’s talent still puts him on this list, but you won’t need to take the risk if you don’t want to on a slate so stocked with elite pitchers.
As far as the matchup goes, there is a ton of strikeout upside here for Sale. Oakland is loaded with righties, and Sale has struck out an insane 37.5% of right-handed hitters the past two seasons. The Athletics own the third-lowest team total of the slate.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is amicsta) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.